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Sally Winter

Video Arts

Head of Marketing

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Is this the most offensive training video you’ve seen?


Telling someone they have a personal hygiene problem isn’t easy ... but there are good ways and bad ways to do it. This clip definitely shows the latter. But do you find it funny and engaging or shocking and offensive?

The clip is from a new series of ice-breaker programmes developed by the Australian psychologist Eve Ash. She says there’s a media-saturated generation in today’s organisations who feel uninspired, unchallenged and bored by traditional training. So she’s created something designed to rattle their cages.

At Video Arts, we’ve been using humour in training programmes for the past 40 years, often showing the ‘wrong way’ to behave in the workplace, in order to provoke discussion and enable learners to draw out lessons for themselves. The ‘right way’ to behave is then shown, to reinforce the learning.

Eve Ash’s series takes this established formula to another level. Her programmes tackle sensitive subjects such as surviving team conflicts and breaking bullying but she confronts these issues in a very different way. Focus groups have shown that people either love or hate this exaggerated approach and this has prompted a debate about the use of hard-hitting learning content.

There’s a serious point here. L&D professionals have to judge what learning content will work best for the audience in question. The easy option is to stick with what you know works. Your content may cross the divide and appeal to the middle ground but is it working? If you’re getting great results, that’s fine. But if there’s scope for improvement, maybe it’s time to try something different.

For some audiences, the shock tactic employed in Eve Ash’s programmes may have exactly the right impact. Laughing, sharing their outrage and discussing the behaviours on screen can bring an audience together. By using the strong feelings generated, skilled trainers can construct a shared view not only of what constitutes acceptable behaviour in the workplace but also of how sensitive issues should best be resolved.

But what do you think? Tell us by voting now in our exclusive 'yes or no' poll, and see the results as they come in.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Martin Addison is CEO of Video Arts, which is distributing Eve Ash’s new Cutting Edge Communication series. Click here for a preview.

4 Responses

  1. Acting

    I think the most offensive thing was the terrible acting!

    I wasn't offended by the video but I see no reason why it needs to be like this? Shock tactics should be left for health and safety videos.

  2. feedback on shock treatment clip

    I think alot depends on your audience..the culture the attendees come from…and in some cases it could be too direct and offensive… might get the point across..but offend and confuse folks along the way.

    I've seen some other clips where there was a lot of humor but sometimes it detracts from the main point of the lesson. I guess it can be a fine line in keeping the clips interesting…but not offensive or too foolish….and make sure the point is clear.

    Today is such a multicultural world it might be best to lean on the side of appealing to a multicultural audience….as it can also teach respect of a variety of peoples, customs and cultures.

  3. Suprising poll results so far

    I think that's a really good point Julienne. You've got to know your audience and this style isn't for everyone. Eve Ash who produced this series of training videos says that they are specifically aimed at a generation of media-saturated employees who need something different to grab their attention.

    Looking at the initial poll results I see that nearly 80 percent of respondents would consider using a hard-hitting clip like this in their training…

  4. Training Video

    While injecting humor is a great technique and one that I successfully use during each event (at the right time and in the right dose — with "success" being measured by consistent workshop, working session and seminar positive ratings plus feedback combined with my high client retention rates) , the video went too far. The heritage/prejudicial aspects and comments caused me to cringe. I fully and unequivocally embrace diversity and cultural differences, so going to that place, even in jest, was inappropriate to me.  

Author Profile Picture
Sally Winter

Head of Marketing

Read more from Sally Winter

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